Find Out About Headaches Without Getting One
Medicine 4(4):4,5, 1999. ??99 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins]
As our understanding and treatment of headache continue to advance, the number of web resources devoted
to the topic increases. To keep you abreast of happenings in this field, here is a rundown of Internet resources, along with
descriptions of what you'll find once you get to the sites.
General Pain Sites
From a treatment standpoint,
headache is often grouped with other painful conditions (e.g. neuropathies, back pain, arthritis, etc.) under the umbrella
term "pain management." Pain management specialists come from a number of backgrounds, but most share an interest
in headache. Unfortunately, most professional societies devoted to pain management, such as the International Association
for the Study of Pain (www.halcyon.com/iasp), the American Pain Society (http://www.ampainsoc.org/), and the American Academy
of Pain Medicine (http://www.painmed.org/), do a marginal job of providing useful information on their websites.
can find out how to join these groups, and the American Pain Society provides a convenient list of U.S. pain facilities, but
to get at anything truly helpful you'll have to go to the Worldwide Congress on Pain site (http://www.pain.com/).
Worldwide Congress provides a wealth of information for both professionals and patients, including free CME, a collection
of expert interviews with pain specialists (e.g. headache guru Seymour Diamond, MD), a database of 2500 pain-related articles,
plus interactive features like "Ask Mary" (patient advice from a chronic pain sufferer) and "Ask the Doctor"
(treatment tips from certified pain specialists).
One of the most useful headache
sites for professionals is produced by the American Medical Association. Although its "Migraine Information Center"
(www.ama-assn.org/special/migraine/migraine.htm) doesn't address all types of headache, it includes a number of migraine-specific
features such as clinical guidelines, a library featuring links to migraine-related articles, an updated news section, and
links to patient education/support sites.
By contrast, the sites produced by professional societies devoted exclusively
to headache spend more time marketing memberships than providing useful information. Still, professionals interested in the
many off-line activities of these groups may want to check out sites for the American Association for the Study of Headache
(aash.org) and the International Headache Society (http://www.i-h-s.org/).
Patient support groups do a much better
job of delivering useful headache-related information and services online. The best of these patient-oriented sites comes
from the National Headache Foundation (http://www.headaches.org/), which offers "The Complete Guide to Headache,"
a succinct, informative web-based booklet containing general information about headache diagnosis and treatment. Additional
features of the site include a database of "Topic Sheets" that provides specific information about different types
of headache (migraine, tension, cluster, etc.) and treatments, plus a list of educational books, videos, and pamphlets that
patients can order for use off-line.
Another useful resource is produced by the American Council for Headache Education
(http://www.achenet.org/), whose site features patient discussion forums, contact information for headache specialists, plus
"Headache Resources," which includes a list of headache frequently asked questions (FAQs), a database of headache
articles, and a glossary of headache-related terms.
The recent barrage of headache-oriented
TV commercials demonstrates just how important the headache market is to pharmaceutical companies. To their credit, however,
drug companies are doing more than just saturating the airwaves with commercial messages; they're also producing a number
of information-packed websites that cater to headache sufferers.
You should caution patients that drug company sites
are ultimately designed to sell a product, but given this context, there's no reason why patients shouldn't take advantage
of these high-end information repositories. The cream of the crop is Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s site for Excedrin[TM] (http://www.excedrin.com/),
a site that at times skirts the line between information and infomercial but which ultimately conveys a great deal of headache
information. Site features include a "Headache Resource Center" where patients can sign up to receive free product
samples, a section devoted to "Managing Migraine," an interactive quiz to test users' headache knowledge, plus a
library of articles, clinical briefs, and headache FAQs.
Additional headache information can be found on sites from
Glaxo Wellcome, Inc., (http://www.migrainehelp.com/) and Abbott Laboratories (www.rxabbott.com/Disease/mig/mighom.htm).